Keselowski Wins At Chicagoland, Takes Early-Chase Lead

A late-race battle between a rookie and three previous Chicagoland winners ended in Brad Keselowski capturing the checkered flag in his series-leading fifth win of the 2014 Sprint Cup season.

Keselowski’s victory, which guarantees the 2012 Cup champion a spot in the Chase’s Contender Round, was also Ford’s first win in 14 Chicagoland Speedway races.

Late in the race, however, the rookie Kyle Larson seemed a serious threat for his first Sprint Cup win. Long bouts of side-by-side racing between Larson and Kevin Harvick for the lead accompanied the final 20 laps . While inaugural Chicagoland winner Harvick seemed the man to beat, when Larson caught the veteran he proved that even a rookie can engage in a tight but clean race for a win.

But the 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski saw the battle for the lead as an invitation to make his own move. Cutting between the two California drivers, Keselowski took the lead with 15 laps to go and held on to it.

Keselowski seemed to appear out of nowhere. With 80 laps to go, Keselowski restarted in 16th place due to an extra pit stop under caution. Bogged down by slower competitors, he decisively made moves through traffic until catching and passing the battling leaders.

A caution caused by an accident between Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse led to a restart with six laps to go. Keselowski re-established a comfortable lead, which he held until passing under the checkered flag in first place.

Despite losing too much distance to make up before the race’s finish, Larson was given another opportunity to show off his skills, as Jeff Gordon invited him to another tight duel for second place. The two drivers engaged in another clean battle in the closing laps of the race, at one point swapping low and high race lines as they crossed the start/finish line, putting on a spectacle for the fans. Gordon eventually secured the spot and finished second, while Larson notched third. The rookie managed to capture his Top-3 finish despite a hard hit in practice that sent him to a backup car for race day.

Keselowski’s Team Penske counterpart Joey Logano finished fourth, and Kevin Harvick dropped back to eventually finish fifth.

Keselowski holds a seven point lead over Jeff Gordon in the standings heading into the second race of the Challenger Round in the Chase, next Sunday at New Hampshire.

Chase drivers Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle and A.J. Allmendinger did not fare well, and as a result are the final four drivers in the Chase group, in danger of the cut-off after the next two races.

Newman, Allmendinger and Biffle finished 15th, 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Almirola finished 41st after engine failure while running in sixth place.

Race Results:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Jamie McMurray
  10. Matt Kenseth
  11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  12. Jimmie Johnson
  13. Kasey Kahne
  14. Martin Truex Jr.
  15. Ryan Newman
  16. Austin Dillon
  17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  18. Tony Stewart
  19. Danica Patrick
  20. Carl Edwards
  21. Paul Menard
  22. AJ Allmendger
  23. Greg Biffle
  24. Brian Vickers
  25. Marcos Ambrose
  26. Casey Mears
  27. Justi Allgaier
  28. Landon Cassill
  29. Reed Sorenson
  30. Cole Whitt
  31. David Ragan
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Josh Wise
  34. David Gilliland
  35. Alex Bowman
  36. Joey Nemechek
  37. Joey Gase
  38. Travis Kvapil
  39. Clint Bowyer
  40. Michael Annett
  41. Aric Almirola
  42. Ryan Truex
  43. Mike Bliss


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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